This is the inaugural issue of my new Substack newsletter. I’ve migrated to this platform since I’m going to be focusing on writing for a while. I’m glad you are here. (If you’d rather listen to this newsletter, I read it in the audio below.)
After I absorbed my cancer diagnosis, I found myself thinking a lot about healing. I knew that I wanted to pursue healing, even as I understood that my cancer is incurable. My mantra became “healing happens.” It was part of how I told my wider community that I have Stage 4 cancer, and this mantra guides me.
What does healing look like in the face of an incurable disease?
I’m not talking about the miraculous healing of my-cancer-is-cured like the one promised by faith healers, although I’ll take a miracle if it is offered.
I am talking about healing that leads to wholeness, something that is available to all of us.
My guess is that what healing looks like for me will evolve for the rest of my life. One of the great things about healing is that it only asks what is the next right step? Right now. It doesn’t ask what is your 5-year plan? At least it doesn’t ask me this.
Healing looks like living right up until dying. It can look like eating healthy food and moving my body so that I can be as strong as I can be, for as long as I can be. Healing can also look like indulging in great baked goods while my sweet tooth is working again and lounging in my pajamas all weekend.
It looks like letting go of all kinds of shoulds, in exchange for wants. It looks like prioritizing time with my most beloveds. It might look like conspiring for memorable adventures, but it usually looks more like a string of ordinary moments. It often includes laughter, sometimes tears.
It looks like finding joy and connection in seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.
Sometimes it looks like great conversation and sometimes it looks like silence. It looks like following curiosity and allowing creativity.
Healing looks like music and art and great stories. It looks like gardens and bird watching and big trees. It looks like forest bathing and sitting by the water.
It looks like tending to my inner life. Often it looks like a lot of reflection, some meditation, some writing. It looks like finding companion poets and seekers.
It looks like Mary Oliver reminding me that
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
It looks like connecting with divinity, mine and that of a God who is the energy of Love that animates the Universe. It looks like contemplating what it might be like when the time comes to merge back into that Love. It looks like dwelling in the thin places.
It looks like Andrea Gibson reminding me that
Healing was learning
No one has ever laid a fingerprint
On the part of me that’s infinite.
For me healing looks like choosing wholeness, one day at a time.
How about you, what does healing look like in your life these days? We can start a conversation in the comments.
Thanks for being here. Please share this post with folks who might be interested.
Lots of love,
Healing looks like being present with my body and my emotions and honoring how I feel. Slowing down when needed and paying attention to when that is needed. It looks like surrender and sobbing and knowing I am held.
It's a good question you ask, Maija. And I like your answer. Especially the part about healing coming one step at a time; there's no 5-year plan. Yes, to being in nature. Yes, to friendship. Creativity. Curiosity. Thank you! I will add acceptance of myself, others and the world, not as resignation, but as that which precedes the action of love.